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The 2014 New York State Democrat Party convention began in discord.
At a heated committee meeting that kicked off proceedings, Democrat leaders voted down two petitions backed by the liberal wing of the party. One urged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to reject the endorsement of the Independence Party and the other called on a handful of breakaway Senate Democrats who have formed a governing coalition with Republicans to return to the mainline Democrat conference.
That sparked sharp exchanges, with some liberals questioning “can’t we stand for something?”
Afterward, Daniel Marks Cohen, a delegate from Manhattan, said party leaders were trying to silence progressives.
“You can’t silence progressives because it’s inconvenient,” Cohen said.
He continued, saying that while the Independence endorsement and the breakaway Senate Dems (known as the Independent Democratic Caucus) help Cuomo, they hurt county leaders trying to win down-ballot elections. Given his stance, Cohen was asked, then, how Cuomo is doing in leading the party.
After a lengthy pause, Cohen said: “I believe Governor Cuomo is doing an excellent job as governor. But he can do a better job as a Democrat.”
Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs led the charge to reject the Independence line, which was rejected 21 to 20. Progressives asked for a recount but relented when the committee agreed to advance Jacobs’ proposal to the full convention without recommendation.
Democrat state vice-chairwoman Sheila Comar of Washington County argued against the motion, saying the party shouldn’t dictate an individual candidate's decision.
“Let’s not make it so we are putting people in a corner,” Comar said. “I don’t want to put people in a corner.”